Report lists concerns about med college
A medical college proposed for the Roseburg area has strong community support, but those involved also have a host of concerns, including a lack of transparency, a shortage of housing and public transportation and a potential inability to attract adequate faculty, according to a report by a government oversight organization.
The 20-page report by Oregon Solutions was published in May and released this week. Oregon Solutions was created by the Oregon Legislature in 2001 as a watchdog arm of the government on projects involving larger expenditures of public funding. Last year, legislators approved $10 million for the construction of a medical training facility in Roseburg known as the Southern Oregon Medical Workforce Center.
The City of Roseburg also committed $10 million toward the project, which is intended to address a shortage of medical professionals in the region, as well as provide a boost to the local economy.
The Umpqua Valley Development Corp., a nonprofit organization formed last fall to oversee the creation of the medical college, is scheduled to meet via a Zoom video conference on Tuesday to discuss issues raised in the Oregon Solutions report.
Oregon Solutions staff conducted interviews late last year and early this year with “elected officials, community leaders, local and state agency directors, policy advisors, and key stakeholders with an interest in this issue,” the report said.
“We hoped to 1) learn about the issues and the parties’ interests in developing the Southern Oregon Medical Workforce Center; 2) identify resources needed and available for the project; and 3) determine how to design a process that a collaborative group could work on together in order to address the issue at hand.”
Oregon Solutions determined that there is strong support for the medical college and “a willingness to work collaboratively with the regional community” to make it a reality.
However, those interviewed also expressed myriad concerns with how the process is being conducted and various impediments to the medical college’s success. Questions and/or concerns were raised about:
- The need for increased communication and transparency about the project; not all partners have the same information.
- A limited understanding about what programs will be offered and whether programs will be phased in over time.
- Different priorities. Some people are concerned with educational quality and academic outcomes while others are chiefly interested in economic development.
- A limited understanding about what programs will be offered.
- A lack of clarity about how many students should be enrolled initially, and over time.
- The ability to recruit and retain faculty.
- Limited access to housing and public transportation.
- Disagreement over whether a new building is necessary or financially viable, or whether existing space should be used.
Richard Heard, board president for Umpqua Valley Development Corp., said the Oregon Solutions report and the issues raised in it will be the main topic of discussion Tuesday.
“The purpose of the Umpqua Valley Development Corp. is to bring together varied interests into a single project that will be a long-term community and regional asset,” Heard said. “This Oregon Solutions report puts into writing the playbook we will be working from and highlights the challenges we are facing. It’s an important step in making sure the Southern Oregon Medical Workforce Center is developed in the most efficient and transparent way possible.”
The meeting will be recorded and posted on the Umpqua Valley Development Corp. website, with an opportunity to submit written comment. The URL for the web site is www.umpquavalleydevelopment.com/.